What is a heart attack?
A heart attack occurs when one or more of four coronary arteries that supply the heart with oxygenated blood become sufficiently occluded to cause heart muscle to die. The most common cause of heart attack is a blood clot or similar obstruction in conjunction with atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Heart attacks in women typically occur after menoupause, but the disease process may begin as early as childhood.
Heart attack is the leading cause of death in women.
40% of women believe they are "well-informed" about cardiovascular disease, but only 13% consider it their greatest risk.
Smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke
Age 55 and over
Family history of cardiovascular disease
High blood pressure
High blood cholesterol
Diet high in fat
Stress and depression
Signs and Symptoms
Chest discomfort in the center of the chest lasting more than a few minutes or it may go away and return. The discomfort can feel like pressure, aching, squeezing fullness or pain.
Discomfort or pain in other parts of the upper body incudling one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
Shortness of breath may occur with or without chest disomfort.
Nausea, light-headedness, indigestion, cold sweat
Some people do not have symptoms or are slow to recognize symptoms, especially women and people with diabetes.
Treatment of cardiovascular disease depends on the diagnosis. Typical early treatment may include lowering HDL cholesterol, triglyceride and blood pressure levels through lifestyle modifications (e.g. stop smoking, healthy diet, exercise and stress reduction) and medications when indicated. Most physicians suggest a baby aspirin a day to help prevent another heart attack.
Heart catheterization may be recommended to look for blockage of the coronary arteries or to expand the tiny vessels with a ballon procedure. Coronary bypass surgery may be necessary. Cardiac rehabiliation is generally recommended following a heart attack or surgery along with permanent lifestyle modifications.
Lifestyle changes including regular physical activity, smoking cessation, good nutrition and a healthy weight reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in all age groups. Your doctor may recommend other preventive measures based on your medical and family histories.
Internal medicine and cardiology specialists
Diagnostic ultrasound and nuclear medicine
Computerized stress testing and electrocardiography
Winfield Area Emergency Medical Service
24 hour emergency room and intensive care unit
Menders cardiac rehabilitation program
Home health care
American Heart Association
Smart Ways to Live Well
JoRita Davis had a heart attack on September 16, 2006. She agreed to share her story with others in hopes of helping them recover to a full and happy life.
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